The communication aims within a text alters across time due to the influence of social, cultural and technological developments. This is apparent in the differently interpreted productions of ‘Julius Caesar’ originally written by William Shakespeare in 1599. The Film ‘Caesar and Cleopatra’ is a black and white film produced by Gabriel Pascal in 1945 revealing historical communication techniques while the Royal Shakespeare theatrical production ‘Julius Caesar’ communicates contemporary themes and methods. Both productions share a pivotal purpose in engaging the audience while their process of communication can be seen from the process theory and the culturally ingrained semiotics within each text.
Through the ages William Shakespeare’s 1599 play ‘Julius Caesar’ has been recreated many times as the communication aims of the text constantly change to accommodate to certain social structures and cultural contexts. The play is set in Ancient Rome and re-enacts the historical events and conspiracies associated with Roman Leader Julius Caesar as well as the civil war following his death (c.100-44B.C.). The changes in communication are apparent in the contrast between the 1945 Film ‘Caesar and Cleopatra’ and the 2012 Royal Shakespeare’s interpretation of ‘Caesar. ’ The 1945 film was released in the UK on the 11th of September 1945 in black and white while the characters wore togas in order to reproduce the Roman atmosphere. However the filming was during the middle of winter and at a crucial time in society, as there was the fear of bombings due to the end of WW11. This, along with the costumes that didn’t accommodate for the cold caused the cast and crew to suffer which affected their performance. Subsequently as the film was set in Ancient Rome it was difficult to comprehend and the majority of the audience found it slow moving and unengaging. There was assumed prior knowledge to the play as the language was Shakespearean which caused it to be arbitrary and closed. Communication not only in dialogue but also body language. There is a use of gestural signs that pertain to the internal theatrical code... The relationship between Mark Antony and Brutus “I am beholden” …at the start communicates a sense of trust and indicates brotherhood, - and respect towards one another as they salute in each other’s direction. Thus a shared cultural understanding with historical knowledge was needed at this time, for the communication to be successful.
The Royal Shakespeare’s interpretation of the original play is in Live production as it alters the script from Ancient Rome to a Modern Day African setting. While the script still maintained the Traditional Shakespeare language, the use of codes such as contemporary costumes, a dark African cast with strong accents, cultural music did not associate with the time of Caesar and consequently created an engaging performance. There is more value in culture in the play evidenced through the use of Semiotics, the science of signs, which can enhance effective communication. The entrance of the man coated in white paint adds to the culture of the play. A man in white paint appears as a cultural code that embodies a traditional ceremony. Additionally the symbol of Antony putting his hands together in praise when saying “Brutus is an honourable man.” This would only be understood by those who are aware of the religious connotation while the attribute ‘honourable’ is worth something to be praised for. However these signs rely heavily on cultural understanding.
The effectiveness of a sign in theatre is dependent on the knowledge of the audiences cultural understanding and thus with this idea, we can achieve greater insight into the sophistication of the message. Rich in symbols, Antony’s red hands indicate the shed of blood while we know that Caesar has been murdered. The common understanding or this meaning is thus communicated through this visual sign. The contrasting communication…